Sikkim: 80 tourists still missing due to flash floods

Sikkim government states that 70 people have lost their lives and 80 tourists are still missing

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  10 Oct 2023 4:56 AM GMT
Sikkim: 80 tourists still missing due to flash floods

Gangtok: An inter-ministerial central team started visiting Sikkim which was ravaged by a flash flood which claimed at least 70 lives, while search for 80 people who are still missing is underway, officials said.

The Indian Air Force has started rescue and relief operations in the Himalayan state, airlifting over 350 stranded tourists in North Sikkim.

While the Sikkim government said 36 people have died in the flash flood in the Teesta river triggered by a cloudburst in the early hours of Wednesday, the authorities of the neighbouring Jalpaiguri district of northern West Bengal reported that 41 bodies have been found at various places along the river which, after flowing through both the states heads towards Bangladesh.

Officials, however, warned that the figures reported by Sikkim and West Bengal will have some duplication, though both states were keeping each other informed of their respective rescue efforts.

Officials in Jalpaiguri district said the river carried the bodies of two army personnel to Bangladesh and from there, those were handed over to the BSF by the authorities of the neighbouring country.

Of the 36 deaths reported in the small Himalayan state, Pakyong district reported the maximum number of fatalities at 24, including 10 army personnel, followed by six in Gangtok, four in Mangan and two in Namchi.

Altogether 80 people are now missing in those four districts, while the total number of affected population is 87,300, the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) said in its 8 pm bulletin.

Members of the central team went to the affected areas in Gangtok, Pakyong and Mangan districts. Among the areas they visited were IBM, Rangpo, ATTC-Bardang, Golitar, Singtam, Dikchu and Phidang where they assessed damage caused to buildings, power lines, roads and bridges, officials said.

The inter-ministerial central team visited a relief camp in Majigaon and made certain recommendations for the maintenance of proper sanitation at rescue centres besides suggesting counselling of the inmates to boost their morale.

On the financial assistance, they said that priority will be given to immediate and short-term requirements of the state, and assured that release of funds will be expedited so that normalcy can be restored at the earliest.

The team, which held a meeting with Chief Secretary VB Pathak, will visit some of the affected areas in north Sikkim on Tuesday.

The Indian Air Force has started humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations in Sikkim, and rescued the first batch of stranded tourists from Lachen to Mangan aboard a helicopter, a Defence official said.

The MI-17 and Chinook helicopters under the Indian Air Force conducted a total of 10 rounds successfully from Lachung, evacuating 354 tourists, including 13 tourists from Bangladesh.

It also carried emergency service personnel and essential supplies to Lachen.

"The IAF commenced its humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations from Air Force Station Bagdogra for the flood victims of Sikkim on the Air Force Day," the Defence official said.

The evacuation procedure will again resume in the first hour on Tuesday.

Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang said he and other 18 MLAs of the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha will contribute their one month's salary to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund (CMRF) for rescue, relief and reconstruction work in the Himalayan state.

Singh Tamang held a review meeting with Chief Secretary VB Pathak, Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande, who has reached Gangtok, and other officials for coordinated relief and rescue operations along with armed forces.

Efforts are now on to connect the now inaccessible Dzongu, Chungthang areas and beyond. Foot bridges are being constructed and personnel of the state administration, central agencies as well as local people are trekking to the places, the Sikkim chief secretary said.

The flash flood of October 4 has completely destroyed the Army ammunition depot at Munshithang (above Chungthang) as a result of which the Teesta river basin has been filled with weapons, ammunition and explosives. It is difficult to clear the debris and the sludge, particularly adjacent to the river bank dwellings, which is endangering the people, he said.

To prevent any accident, the people have been warned to notify the local police if any ammunition or explosives are sighted in the river basin.

(Inputs by PTI)

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